One of the most unfortunate and challenging situations that can occur for a business owner, employer, or human resources department is an incident in which an employee dies in the workplace. Employee workplace deaths can take many forms. These include the result of natural causes, accidents, and even the result of some type of criminal activity. A business and its management team need to take some basic steps and responses when an employee has died in the workplace.
We present a set of essential steps that must be taken in the aftermath of an employee’s workplace death. While this list is comprehensive, each incident where a worker dies can have additional and unique response requirements.
Notify appropriate authorities, such as emergency services and the local police department, immediately after the incident. Timely reporting ensures that necessary actions are taken promptly, and investigations can begin.
Secure the area where the incident occurred to ensure other employees’ safety and preserve the scene for further investigations. This includes restricting access and preventing any tampering with evidence.
Contact Employee’s Emergency Contact
Contact the deceased employee’s emergency contact or next of kin to inform them about the unfortunate event and offer condolences. This initial communication should be handled with sensitivity and empathy.
Offer Immediate Support to Impacted Employees
Offer immediate support and assistance to the affected employees who may be in shock or distress due to the incident. Provide a safe space for them to express their emotions and offer access to counseling resources or employee assistance programs.
Notify Company’s Legal Counsel
Notify the company’s legal department or legal counsel to seek guidance on the legal obligations and requirements following an employee’s death. Legal experts can provide valuable advice on complying with relevant laws and regulations.
Cooperate Fully With Any Investigation
Cooperate fully with any investigations conducted by authorities or regulatory agencies, providing all necessary information and assistance. Transparency and cooperation are essential in uncovering the cause of death and ensuring a thorough investigation.
Follow Any State or Local Guidelines Regarding Workplace Death
Follow any specific protocols or guidelines provided by local laws and regulations regarding the handling of employee deaths in the workplace. Adhering to legal requirements demonstrates a commitment to proper handling of the situation.
Determine if Further Action is Needed to Eliminate Any Future Hazard
Determine if any immediate action is required to prevent further harm or danger to employees or the workplace. This may involve addressing potential safety hazards, implementing additional security measures, or providing additional employee training.
Coordinate Any Necessary Further Investigation
Coordinate with the appropriate authorities to thoroughly investigate the incident, ensuring that all relevant facts are gathered and analyzed. This investigation is crucial in determining liability and preventing similar incidents in the future.
Preserve Evidence and Documentation
Preserve any evidence or documentation related to the incident in accordance with legal requirements. This may include photographs, video footage, witness statements, and other relevant records. Proper documentation is essential for potential legal proceedings or claims.
Notify Insurance Provider
Notify the company’s insurance provider and initiate any necessary claims or paperwork to ensure that the deceased employee’s family receives the appropriate benefits or compensation. This process should be handled with empathy, supporting the family during this difficult time.
Communicate Appropriately With Employees
Communicate with employees about the situation in a sensitive and compassionate manner while respecting the privacy and confidentiality of the deceased employee and their family. Open and transparent communication fosters trust and support within the workplace.
Review Workplace Safety Policies and Update
Review and update workplace safety measures to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. This may involve conducting a comprehensive risk assessment, identifying any gaps in safety protocols, and implementing necessary changes to improve employee safety.
Provide Appropriate Services for Workers
Provide comprehensive training or resources to employees to help them cope with the loss and grief resulting from the incident. This can include grief counseling, support groups, or educational materials on bereavement. Supporting employees in their grieving process is crucial for their emotional well-being.
Ensure Compliance With Any Compensation or Benefit Processes
Ensure compliance with any compensation or benefits processes for the deceased employee’s family, including providing information and assistance in accessing any available financial support or benefits. This may involve liaising with relevant government agencies or insurance providers.
Support Worker’s Family in Coordinating Funeral or Memorial Services
Support the deceased employee’s family in making funeral arrangements or accessing any available support services, such as bereavement leave or employee assistance programs. Demonstrating empathy and providing necessary support to the family can alleviate some of their burdens during this difficult time.
Maintain Open Lines of Communication With Family
Maintain open lines of communication with the deceased employee’s family, offering ongoing support and assistance as needed during their grieving process. Providing a support system to the family helps them navigate through the challenging weeks and months ahead.
Conduct Comprehensive Post-Incident Review
Conduct a thorough post-incident review to identify any areas for improvement in workplace safety and emergency response procedures. This may involve analyzing the effectiveness of existing protocols, identifying any shortcomings, and implementing necessary changes to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Implement Any Necessary Changes in a Timely Manner
Implement any necessary changes or enhancements to prevent future incidents and ensure employee safety. This can include updating policies, procedures, or training programs to address identified shortcomings and promote a culture of safety within the organization.
Monitor and Evaluate Workplace Safety Practices
Finally, continuously monitor and evaluate workplace safety practices to create a safer environment for all employees. This involves regularly reviewing and updating policies and procedures, conducting regular safety audits, and providing ongoing training to ensure a proactive approach to workplace safety.